The Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) has called on the Federal Government to include cocoa drink as part of the school feeding programme across the country.
“It will be better if the FG can include it in the Home Grown School Feeding Programme for our school children.”
The group said that cocoa drink is rich in nutrients that are beneficial for both children and adults and that its inclusion has both health and economic benefits to the country and the people.
The call was made by the CFAN president, Mr Adeola Adegoke, during his swearing-in ceremony in Akure, Ondo State.
Adegoke said that one of the major problems facing the cocoa sector is that Nigerians consume less of what it produces which has a negative impact on the price of the commodity.
He, therefore, called on the Federal and State Governments to partner with the association to bring back Nigeria to first position among the cocoa-producing countries of the world.
Also speaking at the event, the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, who was represented by his State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Gboyega Adefarati, urged the new executive members of CFAN to put measures in place to ensure that cocoa farming became more attractive to youths.
The Governor added that the State Government was addressing some challenges faced by farmers with producing quality cocoa seeds.
He noted some of the challenges to include old age of farmers and farms, urbanisation, price fluctuation, old varieties of cocoa and poor road network, among others.
“This administration will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that your requests are given priority attention. As I speak, work is in progress in more than 60km feeder roads linking the various farm camps and villages to enable our farmers move their produce without hitch,” he said.
“It is equally worthwhile to mention that this administration has embarked on free distribution of cocoa seedlings to the farmers for their new planting and rehabilitation programmes in the current year.”
A former governor of the state, Dr Olusegun Mimiko, also speaking at the inauguration, urged the government to ensure that cocoa farmers make more profit on their product after spending a lot on the production of cocoa.
He expressed displeasure at the activities of middlemen who determine the price of cocoa at the expense of farmers who toil through the year.
“Our responsibility is to add value to cocoa sector and make it more profitable. The value accrued to farmers is usually less than six percent.